Posts Tagged ‘Educators’

Our use of green screen technology with video is expanding every day. We currently have a green screen set up (screen and lighting) in each of our two buildings, with more on the way. Teachers are excited to incorporate this into their programs to enhance and support learning.

Last fall, 8 educators from our schools gave up their own time to attend a green screen workshop offered one evening by RETN. (Regional Educational Television Network). The amazing facilitators,  Doug Dunbebin and Jill Dawson (@Switchback42), made a lasting impression on our teachers and from them to our students.

New videos featuring green screen technology have been created as a direct result of this workshop. The videos range from sharing about a field trip at the first/second grade level, to creating PSAs about Child Labor at the middle school level. There are more projects in the works as well and other teachers are joining in.

Thank you to RETN and Jill. Doug’s legacy lives on.




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I’ve come across two things recently that caused me to pause and reflect. One was a post on Edutopia’s site, 8 Skills to Look for in a Director of Technology by Heather Wolpert-Gawron (@wolpertsclass) and the other was the graphic seen below. That one is based on work by Lee Araoz (@LeeAraoz) and illustrated by Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth) using Sketchnote.


While my official title is not that of director or coach, I connect with many of the attributes described in both examples. I know that educators in my school, fully immersed in the day-to-day of classroom teaching, may wonder what I do all day. When I was a classroom teacher, I certainly pondered that of my predecessor. And believe me, no one works harder than a classroom teacher.

I believe that I subtly demonstrate the qualities listed in the graphic as well as in the Edutopia post. I try to respect teachers and how busy they are, while also providing vision, support, encouragement, and the necessary knowledge to keep us moving forward. However, I also learn every day from my colleagues and they keep me grounded in the realities of classroom work, student lives, and the daily challenges they face.

As we often say, it’s all about relationships. It’s a team effort and we’re winning the game. I’m extremely thankful to work in this district and with this amazing group of professionals.


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I have the amazing opportunity to facilitate a meeting 4-5 times a year with our PreK-2 faculty. I thought I’d share what we did yesterday. Some of this stemmed from an observation in both of our schools that sometimes teachers ask students to do tasks that they themselves can’t do or haven’t tried. Plus, we’ll be adding Chromebooks to the mix at our PreK-2 building next year and it was time to highlight a few things that our youngest students might do with Google Apps. It resembled one of those “9 Things Teachers Should Be Able to do with GAFE” posts that I’ve seen, but I designed this one myself.

Teachers were asked to join a Google Classroom for the meeting, mostly as a way to distribute the doc to them, but also to model using Classroom. We talked later about how it helps to organize things in Drive; something that the teachers might find useful in the future.

Once they joined the Classroom, they each got a copy of a doc with directions and a Tic Tac Toe board. Here’s a link to a copy of the doc. The board looked like this:

GAFE for PreK-2

As you can see on the doc, teachers were asked to make Tic Tac Toe by completing at least 3 of the tasks. They needed to change the background color of the cell to indicate which tasks were completed. Underlined elements above took them to other links, sheets, drawings, etc that were collaborative. (not linked on the copy provided here)

There was a lot of energy in the room (we were in a computer lab) and a quick visual assessment showed everyone on task. There were not doing other work or things of a personal nature which is often the case at faculty meetings. Yay!

Near the end of our time together, we not only shared, but also completed surveys for one another that had been created, and provided the process for how things were accomplished. With Google Apps, there’s often more than one way to do things.

Finally, the group helped me by playing guinea pig while we tried out a new tool I had read about earlier in the week from Richard Byrne via Practical Ed Tech. It’s called dotstorming. Not only did teachers share thoughts on how they might move forward with ideas generated during our time together, but they also ‘voted’ on the ones they felt they’d actually try themselves. It was a great exit card. Here’s a link to the final board that was completed, ranked by votes.

All in all, we packed in a lot, but it was a very positive gathering, generated practical ideas that could be put into motion right away, and provided respite from work on report cards.

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As is the case for many of us, having structure helps. By that I mean having clear, regular expectations for yourself, whether it’s self-imposed or provided by an outside source. I know that if I don’t have a regular routine or someone waiting for me, I don’t exercise as often. Yes, I just confessed that. I need structure and I know it. That may not be the case for all who have different drivers motivating them to do many things.

Last year I participated in the #reflectiveteacher (check out that hashtag!) 30-Day Blogging Challenge, sponsored by TeachThought. I blogged every day for a month! My goal was to set the ball in motion and then I’d easily blog on a regular basis after the challenge ended. As you can see by the dates on my posts, that fell to the wayside.

Its-possible-to-becomeA colleague from Vermont (@betavt) created a Twitter challenge to encourage people in his district to tweet and connect with one another at the beginning of this school year. I watched it from afar to see how it went. Then, with permission, I borrowed and adapted the idea. We are using it to tweet from our school, using the #wsdvt hashtag as a part of our work for Connected Educator’s month. There are a few educators in our schools who have joined in, but not as many as I would have predicted. I wonder why? There’s great structure!

Also as a part of Connected Educator’s month, Lani Ritter Hall (@lanihall) is posting a Daily Connect on the Connected Educator’s ning. It’s a quick activity which exposes us to a new tool, encourages us to try it out and share it, and then use it to connect with others. Today’s Daily Connect encouraged us to use AnswerGarden. I’m learning something new every day.

I’m responding well to the structure of these two activities and have tweeted each day as well as tried Lani’s Daily Challenge. I find that having structure helps direct my learning. Hmmm, it’s likely the same for many of our students as learners, as well as for our colleagues. I’m encouraged to suggest to teachers and students that they create challenges like these to engage and provide structure for learning, for others.

And look, without any structure, I’m blogging. Maybe I have grown!

image created with Quozio.com

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Already this summer, I’ve had many opportunities to learn. I should have been blogging about all of these things, but that didn’t happen.

I was fortunate to attend ISTE in San Antonio. It was wonderful to connect with members of my PLN, get inspired, and learn from others. That learning will always continue through those connections and Twitter.

Recently I taught, with an amazing group, a course for educators about Google tools. I learned while working with all of them- the other facilitators and the participants.

One special highlight took place last week. My friend Lucie deLaBruere (@techsavvygirl) put together a course called Making Mobile Media Camp for Educators. One of the best things about it was that it was an opportunity for technology integrators, library-media specialists, teachers, and others to get hands-on learning time. Lucie brought others in from near and far to help lead various sessions. We were creators, not consumers.

I had the pleasure of working with Jessica Pack (@packwoman208) for most of the week. Here are some of the things I explored:

  • Creating an iTunesU course
  • Creating a Powtoon as one component of my course. (a new tool for me!)
  • Learning about iBooks Author and starting the creation of a book.

The topic I chose for all components of my work was Digital Citizenship. My hope/dream is to complete the book and the course (ha!) in time for a day-long iPad training being held in our school in a few weeks. Ideally, teachers would explore the course, including the book, to get familiar with topics under the umbrella of digital citizenship. Then they’d use the same materials with their students as part of an introduction to iPads. Time is a huge factor – is it realistic for me to assume I can get this done and still enjoy my summer ‘time off’!?

In the process of doing all of these things, I learned so much about working with digital photos, editing video, structuring time, teaching, and much more.

We worked hard and learned a lot Monday through Thursday. My head is still spinning from the ideas, the tools, the techniques, and examples shared by Jessica. Friday was a bonus day during which we had a digital film challenge. Jessica led the way again, demonstrating how such challenges align with the Common Core and how much students learn from creating videos. We worked in small groups to simulate the film challenge in an abbreviated amount of time. For the challenge, each group had to make a film (using only iPads) that was suspenseful, including a fictitious name and the line “call me maybe”. It was a blast and there were many laughs while putting together our movie.

The week was perfect. I loved being a learner in that setting. I loved gathering ideas for how I might work with teachers and with students in an engaging, motivating manner. Thank you Lucie, and thank you Jessica for your patience, your resources, and so much more. I can’t wait to continue my learning!

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Yesterday we had another technology-based faculty meeting at our preK-2 school. In September the faculty in that building set a tech goal for the year:

Using technology as a learning tool, students will share and communicate learning with others within and beyond their classroom walls.

Before the meeting, I created a Google presentation and invited the teachers to contribute either ideas they were hoping to do to meet this goal or something they already had done with students. I anticipated that we would use this collaborative presentation as a resource for the year as well as a vehicle through which teachers could get an idea of what’s happening elsewhere in the building. What I didn’t expect was that before we even met face to face that 14 teachers would contribute! I’m not going to share the presentation here… yet. I’d like to honor the teachers and their desire to get things up and running before WE share to a larger audience.

During the meeting, we began with a few teachers showing and sharing some examples of how they are working toward our goal with students. These included connecting with others via Twitter class accounts and sharing their learning and participating in global projects that connect kindergarten classes.

We divided up into four groups after that to talk for a short while with these questions and topics:

1. Defining our goal: What does it mean to publish and share our learning with a larger audience?

2. Larger Audience:

  • How do we reach a larger audience?
  • Who is that?
  • Where are they?
  • How to find them and/or connect?

3. Feedback:

  • Why is feedback important?
  • Does your activity allow for it in some way?
  • How?
  • How do students receive or give feedback or comments?
  • How do we teach students about ‘good’ commenting?

4. Blogging: If you’re blogging with students…

  • How’s it going?
  • Share:
    ideas for posts
    how are you sharing and getting feedback/comments?
    What settings do you have in place currently on your blogs? (moderating, open for viewing/commenting

And finally, teachers reported out from these small group discussions. Throughout the meeting, I invited participants to utilize a room on TodaysMeet and the conversation there was rich as well.

Our next steps and things to ponder for the next meeting:

  • What support do you need?
  • What tools could we use to achieve this goal?
  • How can WE collaborate and continue to share ideas and support one another toward meeting the goal?

Overall, there are fabulous things happening in this school and we have an amazing faculty. I was so impressed by what teachers were sharing and the level of discussion and commitment. I have the opportunity to facilitate a similar meeting next week with our grades 3-8 faculty. I can’t wait!

Image credit: Creative Commons/flickr  by orkomedix   http://flic.kr/p/6APyZo

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Going 1:1?

There have been so many things to write about since my last post, that I simple lost track of it all and never got around to writing. I’m committed to remedying that.

Between managing iPads for K-2 and for our extended day program, figuring out new Google apps challenges (did you know you can’t send email to more than 100 external recipients in a 24-hour period from your domain?), and then… it’s time to get serious about looking at a 1:1 initiative.

One administrator, one teacher, and I attended Vita-Learn’s one day conference about 1:1 computing. We spent the day thinking about planning for such an initiative and learned from those who had been there. By the end of the day our minds were spinning. I mentioned that we had attended the conference to a Board member and they were very excited. The question is… where do we get the funding? (If you’ve been there and know the answer, please let me know.)

We pulled together a group of educators and our network administrators and started the conversation. They were all very excited about the prospect. We had to work in a somewhat backward and less optimal fashion because the budget cycle has begun. A few things got decided: we mapped out our top 10 reasons why we think we should head in this direction, we decided upon the iPad as the tool of choice, and we started to draft our decision packet.

In our district, when it’s the beginning of the budget preparing season, anyone with any out of the box ideas submits a decision packet. That includes information about why you want to do this, who it will benefit and how, and a budget. Then all of the decision packets get considered and weighed by teachers, parents, and Board members at various times in the next few weeks. A few lucky items might, and I stress might, make it into the budget for next year after much wrangling with the current baseline budget.

Teachers seems to understand that implementing this initiative would take time, professional development, and more. We’re not certain that all teachers understand that by heading in this direction, we’d be letting go of technology tools we’ve had in the past. We certainly can’t fund new iPads and continue to purchase laptops too. We will have just one tool, which will necessitate a paradigm shift and require a pedagogical shift as well. I think people are ready, but I also don’t know if they know what lies ahead.

The trick is to keep the budget within reason (ha!) and market this so that it can happen. It’s hard for us given how large we are and the way in which we’re configured. Anyone with tips, send them my way! We’re very excited and want to keep the momentum going.


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